Usually it is the sun that draws me outside. This morning it was the rain. It was the sweetest, most gentle downpour we’ve had all spring. I pulled a patio chair up close under the eaves and sat down to soak it in.
This spring has been rife with hard rain. Violent thunderstorms, destructive of the delicate blossoms going hog wild in the front garden, have often driven us deep inside our stone house till they blow over. Their ruthlessness is an all-too-apt metaphor for my own harsh treatment of myself—the pushing, the doubting and the unrest. This rain is the one I’ve been waiting for.
Gentle as it falls is how I want to be with myself for the rest of my rapidly diminishing life. Why is it so frigging hard? I’m able to be kind to almost everyone else and I do kind things for myself. To others I probably seem a paragon of self-compassion and self-care. Relatively speaking I am.
But relatively speaking is no longer good enough. If I want to be of utmost service to the world—and thank God I do!—it’s time to relax my tenacious grip and treat myself like the goddess that I am, and that you, the women who are reading this, also are. And I’ve got to do it from deep inside out. I must own and nurture my most sacred human Self.
We are divine and we must start treating ourselves with the love and care we would (we hope) lavish on a Christ, Buddha or Mohammed, should such a holy figure appear in our midst. Why? Because until we do, we cannot lavish that kind of unconditional love on anybody else either.
I lavished love on a guru or two in my day, and it worked! Being a devoted disciple awakened the love in me, not only for the guru but for myself. One of the men I called guru did unseemly things, we later learned. The other, from all I could tell, radiated pure love. Turns out it didn’t matter much where we disciples directed our love. What mattered was the act of bowing down, surrendering our hard-wired heads to our tender hearts, which opened the floodgates of love.
Whether gurus get our love or not (and that’s up to them), we who are their devotees become the first beneficiaries of our own opening hearts. No question that, for me anyway, the impassioned chanting and dancing we did with the gurus were the best of tonics for inducing profound love.
I hope I’m not suggesting we need to go find a guru (or religion or even “God”) to worship if we are to fully appreciate ourselves. What I’m suggesting is that if we want to foment a love worthy of our divinity, it’s not enough to go through external motions of self-care, however beneficial.
Of course it’s well and good to get enough rest, eat right, meditate, do yoga, exercise, and go for massage, etc. But all that and more is mere trimming around the edges of a genuinely self-loving life. Until our minds stop trying to whip us into any sort of shape whatsoever—and our hearts fly so open they can reign supreme—the earth-shaking self-love we long for cannot be ours.
No. If we want be the kind of lovers—the goddesses and gods—who effect real transformation in ourselves and the world, then our love for ourselves, for our rawest humanity and our highest divinity, must be our most ardent desire. It’s a lot to ask of ourselves in a culture that sanctifies the unselfishness of a Mother Teresa*. I am not yet there, and so what?
A deeper self-love is where I’m headed (or should I say hearted?), and I have a promising sense of what true love for our selves could look like. I may be moved to write about that next time. Meanwhile, I am very eager to hear what you make of a quest for self-love above all else.
* My take on Mother Teresa’s life is a whole other story, which I address in my book.